Virgin Australia has raised some eyebrows lately with a few nips and tucks to its domestic business class 737 product.
Virgin’s domestic 737 business class, whilst not a patch on their wide body business class product, is generally regarded to be as good as, if not better, than Qantas’ domestic 737 business class. A point on which I concur.
But Virgin have done a couple of things recently. First, they took out the Samsung tablets from business class. Now, I’ve never seen anyone use these tablets but apparently people do. Virgin’s argument was that everyone had their own tablet these days and you can download the Virgin inflight entertainment app onto it, and you are good to go.
There were murmurrings but its seems like Virgin slipped this one through without too much adverse publicity.
Today, Virgin business class passengers woke up to the shattering news in ET that the days of free snacks from the pay as you eat economy menu were over. Business class passengers were going to have to reach for their wallers from October 9, 2019.
ET says it wasn’t a widely known lurk, and I’ve never eaten off the economy trolley when there’s a business class meal in front of me, but thinking about it, I’ve seen FA’s duck down the back to return with kit kats for kids lording it up in 2A, and wraps and salads for a fussy older lady sitting next to me recently.
I guess that’s grounding to a halt. Either eat up beforehand in the lounge, eat the business class meal, whip out the card, or go hungry.
Virgin Australia says the freebies are costing the airline nearly $800,000 per annum in lost revenue. They also note they are about to make some changes to the busines class F&B offering, rotating menus more frequently and adding items to the (still free) business class pantry. Not that there’s much of a pantry on domestic flights.
It’s getting a mixed reaction. Some say its understandable, especially as the airline is trying to rein in costs, and the lurk was open to abuse.
Others say its penny pinching and risks alienating passengers who pay high fares – all over a lousy chicken wrap or some cheese and crackers. But who pays full fare business class anyway? Like myself, I daresay most passengers in the Virgin business class cabin are there on points, upgrades, and minimal cash outlays.
Nonetheless, at a time when Virgin Australia really needs the market to get behind it and support it, it’s an interesting move. Crazy brave perhaps.
It will be interesting to see if the airline pulls any more surprises out of their hat.